Welcome to the three hundred and fiftieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with fantasy and horror author Lea Ryan. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Lea. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Lea: Hi, Morgen! My home base is located on the outskirts of the Indianapolis, Indiana area, which is in the US. I started writing my first novel about ten years ago. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I hadn’t written creatively since I was a kid. It was just a creative outlet, I guess.
I spent the following years improving my skills. I read books about writing, author blogs and practiced endlessly, and I loved every minute. I reached the point where I decided that I wanted to get serious about writing. It’s my dream to some day be able to quit the day job and write full-time.
Morgen: I had that dream too so I did it. Probably mad, as I’m still on the bottom rung of the literary ladder (second rung if you include this blog, perhaps) but it’s a wonderful (if not scary) feeling. Let me know when you do and we’ll celebrate. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Lea: I have two genres of choice: fantasy and horror. Generally, I like to write stories in which anything could happen, so those are good genres for my wild imagination. I’ve considered heading into the romance genre. Most of what I write has some romantic element, so I could see myself farther into that territory at some point.
Morgen: All popular genres and I think these days (unless with a top publisher) there’s more flexibility for an author with genre… especially if you do what I do and write almost everything (first novel = lad lit, second = light suspense, third = pure chick lit, fourth = crime, fourth & a half (not finished yet) = lad lit). Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Lea: I’m pretty meticulous about plotting out novels. I use outlines and character worksheets before I start writing. Then, while I’m writing, I carry around a notebook in which I plot scenes in greater detail as I move along. It’s like starting out with a far-off view of what the story is and gradually zooming in on the details. This approach seems to work pretty well.
Morgen: Other than the first one I didn’t do much plotting but I’m going back to edit them all now and I think I might do a timeline… something I picked up from novelists Jill Mansell and Helen Black at last weekend’s Chipping Norton Literature Festival (Jill: several A4 sheets taped / folded to A5, smothered in post it notes and Helen: A4 sheets with scene summaries laid out in her dining room!) and :) Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Lea: I obsess over editing. My work may not be 100% flawless all of the time, but it’s not for lack of effort. By the time one of my books hits the shelves, I’ve read it around ten times and my editor has been through it. I also recently started using beta readers. They’re helpful if you can find someone who has the time.
Morgen: With the exception of spelling mistakes there will always be two people who see a novel differently. Of all the feedback I’ve had for my free eShort April’s Fool (thankfully mostly very positive) one reader said there was too much detail, he just wanted to know what happened but another (my first review on Smashwords) said it was “a bit skimpy on the details but we get the idea”. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Lea: I’ve never tried second person. I’ve used first and third person. My second book, Destined for Darkness, is written in the first person. I think I prefer writing from that point of view because more of the protagonist’s personality filters through. The connection between the writer and the character and the reader and the character is more intimate.
Morgen: Second person isn’t to everyone’s taste but I’d urge every writer to have a go – I’ve just put up a page on it on my blog. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Lea: Never give up on writing, and never stop striving to be better.
Morgen: Absolutely. A successful writer is one who didn’t give up. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Lea: Most of my non-writing time is spent with my husband and my kids. I have an 8 year old and a 14 year old. They’re crazy and awesome little people. I love video games too. We just got an Xbox Kinect, which is very cool. I’m mostly a Playstation girl, though. My game of the moment is Prince of Persia, Forgotten Sands.
Morgen: I love ‘Word Drop’ but don’t play it very often (I sneak a go on Facebook occasionally). Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful?
Lea: Yes! On Writing, by Stephen King. There is also one called Book in a Month (by Victoria Lynn Schmidt), which is almost a writing class in itself. There’s some good information on plot architecture and character development that I wish I had when I first started writing books. If I taught a writing class, I would use that as the textbook.
Morgen: I don’t know Victoria’s (although I have something similar ‘First draft in 30 days’ by Karen S Wiesner) but Stephen’s is the most recommended here, and rightly so. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Lea: I think writers have a very bright future. The internet holds limitless possibilities. Writers can spend more time writing books instead of knocking on closed doors with agents and publishers. I don’t have anything against traditional publishing, of course, but the freedom of independent publishing is a beautiful thing.
Morgen: Isn’t it, I think it’s terribly exciting. Where can we find out about you and your work, Lea?
Lea: My website http://www.LeaRyan.com has information about my books (including links to a couple of freebies) and multimedia stuff like trailers and illustrations, extra content for the books.
I usually post on my blog a few times a week – http://Lea-Ryan.blogspot.com
I do movie reviews and sometimes post excerpts of whatever I’m working on.
Morgen: Thank you, Lea.
I then invited Lea to include a synopsis of one of her books and this is ‘Lair of the White Wyrm’: a modern horror inspired by Bram Stoker’s final novel.
Sometimes when you run from your problems, they follow you.
Eric Duncan wants nothing more than to be an ordinary, sane guy. He believes he can escape his troubled past by leaving home. However, the voice in his head, that of his dead friend Benjamin, fights him every step of the way.
Eric finds his new home is a place filled with secrets far darker than his own. A monster prowls the grounds, and it wants to keep him close.
He will discover that his inner demons aren’t the only things he should fear. In order to confront the wyrm and survive, he must also face the worst parts of himself.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
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